This is a fabulous, if very sad book, and one that I think everybody ought to read at least once.
The narrator is Paul Baumer, a young man who is one of many young Germans sent from his class at school to fight on the front line in World War I. Through Paul’s eyes, we see how he and his fellow German soldiers lost their innocence due to the horrors they see, and indeed are involved in, and how even those who survived the war were victims.
Paul says how he believes the wrong people are fighting each other (suggesting that the leaders of the two countries should slug it out on a boxing ring instead), and talks about how someone can become an enemy simply because of an order given by someone else.
Conversely, he also demonstrates the closeness of the friendships which he forges with his fellow soldiers, and shows how adversity can bring people together.
Paul’s disillusionment grows throughout the book, as he realises the extent of the wasted lives caused by the war. I honestly don’t believe I can do this book justice in any review. It’s beautiful and moving, and a very important book. So important that Adolf Hitler banned it and burned it, and the author was turned out of Germany.
My advice is just to read it. It’s an excellent book.
(For more information about the author, please click here.)